Asuka (552-710)

Prince Shotoku Taishi is generally credited with being the primary force in Japan's adoption (or adaptation) of
Buddhism during the Asuka period (552-645 CE.) Prince Shotoku sent envoys, and monks to China to study and to develop trade.
Through them, Japan encountered the splendid Tang culture of the 7th century, especially in the triumphant,
ascendant Buddhism that characterized that era (Batterberry 99). The results in Japan were marvelous.
The pagoda of Horyuji (left) and the Buddha Hall (right) were built in the time and
perhaps under the patronage of Prince Shotoku.

(Batterberry 100)

The Shaka Triad of the 7th c. represents the Buddha and two bodhisattvas and continues in the Chinese style.

(Batterberry 103)

Below, Miroku Bosatsu

Before his death in 622, Prince Shotoku began a reforming period, highlighted by the Seventeen Article Constitution based on Chinese-Tang models; his efforts contributed to the of construction a Japanese version of Chang-an at Nara. Prince Shotoku is pictured here in what is considered a contemporary portrait. His influence on Japanese history was immense.

(Bayrd 23)

For more information on Asuka and Nara art, visit

[ Welcome ] [ Asuka ] [ Nara ] [ Heian ] [ Kamakura ] [ Ashikaga ] [ Warring States ] [ Tokugawa ]
[ Meiji ] [ Rising Sun ]


Batterberry, Michael. Chinese and Oriental Art. New York, et. al.: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968.

Bayrd, Edwin. Kyoto. New York: Newsweek, 1974.

Return to Top